Biggen­den fundraiser

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE -

TALES of climb­ing Mt Ever­est and work­ing as a chap­lain un­der fire in Iraq en­thralled sup­port­ers, who at­tended a fundrais­ing din­ner for the Biggen­den State School chap­laincy pro­gram on Mon­day night.

Guest speaker Fa­ther Mor­gan Batt served as a mil­i­tary chap­lain and also trav­elled the world, in his aim to climb the 257 high­est peaks.

“So far, I have climbed 111 of them,” he said.

As the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment funds Biggen­den’s chap­laincy pro­gram for only two days a week, the din­ner was held to raise funds for ex­tra days.

Padre Batt, who is still a re­servist in the army, be­gan his ser­vice as a lay youth chap­lain in the YMCA aged 18 and climbed Mt Kosciuszko when he was 13.

He de­scribed his first at- tempt at climb­ing Mt Kenya, which ended when he had to carry his guide back to safety, af­ter he col­lapsed with malaria.

“To join a climb of Mt Ever­est, I ap­proached 40 tour com­pa­nies, and one spon­sored me for the $77,000 cost of the climb, which took seven weeks. It took two weeks to cross one glacier, with ev­ery step ex­tremely hard work.

“I lost 16kg in weight, and one man in our group died in the at­tempt.”

In his mes­sage of of­fer­ing hope and sup­port to both Aus­tralian and US sol­diers in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions in Iraq, Padre Batt re­lated how his group came un­der fire, while con­duct­ing a church ser­vice in the desert.

“My three aims as a padre are to be there, boots and all, to sup­port the sol­diers,” he said.

“These young men are happy and pre­pared to of­fer their lives in sac­ri­fice.

“They love the job they do.”

Photo: Bev Geissler

IN­SPIR­ING DIN­NER: Join­ing Coun­cil­lor Faye Whe­lan at the fundrais­ing din­ner in Biggen­den were Biggen­den chap­lain Moira Thomp­son, Lisa Hardy fromScrip­ture Union, guest speaker Fa­ther Mor­gan Batt and Gin Gin chap­lain Dar­ren Lawrence.

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